Minneapolis, MN – Just hours after attorneys for the family of George Floyd held a press conference to announce the findings of their independent autopsy, the county’s final autopsy report revealed the 46 year old had the highly toxic opioid fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system when he died.
“Cause of death: Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” Floyd’s autopsy said. “Manner of death: Homicide.”
“How injury occurred: Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the report continued. “Other significant conditions: Arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.”
The toxicology results that showing fentanyl directly contradicted assertions by the forensic pathologist that Floyd’s family’s attorneys hired to dispute the initial medical examiner’s report.
Attorney Ben Crump claimed the independent autopsy conducted over the weekend proved wrong the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office’s preliminary determination that “the autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
Instead, Crump claimed they found further evidence Floyd had died as a result of being held down by three Minneapolis police officers during an arrest on May 25.
“The knee to the neck and the knees to his back both contributed to him not being able to get breath,” the attorney said. “And what those officers did that we see on the video is the cause of his death, not some underlying, unknown health condition.”
Crump, who represented the families of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, is also currently representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested on May 29 and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death during his arrest.
Officers had responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that Floyd had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Viral cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.
Floyd was pronounced dead 90 minutes later at the hospital.
After three days of violent riots and looting that left Minneapolis and its sister city, St. Paul, in flames, the state investigative agency announced it making an arrest.
Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension four days after the incident and held on a $500,000 bond, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced, according to WCCO.
According to charging documents, the medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
The preliminary autopsy findings indicated Floyd had died from a combination of his underlying medical problems and possible substances.
“The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death,” according to the complaint.
But veteran forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told reporters on Monday at the Floyd family press conference that his independent autopsy determined that the man had died of asphyxiation much in the same way Eric Garner died from a choke hold in New York in 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The Eric Garner autopsy report showed no damage to any area of his neck, and it was determined that he died of a medical emergency induced by officers who were arresting him.
The medical examiner declared it was a homicide, but a grand jury refused to indict the officer on the theory that officers caused Garners death by arresting him.
Baden told reporters the main difference was that Garner died in 45 seconds so the medical examiner was able to immediately declare a homicide, whereas Floyd died about five minutes after he lost consciousness.
The veteran pathologist said he found evidence of mechanical or traumatic asphyxia the led to Floyd’s death while three Minneapolis police officers where holding him down.
Contrary to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s preliminary report, Baden said it didn’t matter whether Floyd had drugs or alcohol in his system when he died because it still would not be the cause of death.
The doctor also said Floyd was healthy and that he wished had a heart in as good of shape as the 46 year old had when he died.
Baden’s assessment directly contradicted the preliminary medical examiner’s report cited in the complaint used to charge Chauvin.
But the toxicology results in the final autopsy that was released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office shortly thereafter proved some of Baden’s conclusions were either faulty or unsupported and served to bolster the preliminary autopsy report that said intoxicant substances could have been a factor in Floyd’s death.